Why Your Real Estate Farming Practices Are Outdated

Since my company’s inception, in 1997, not a month goes by that we don’t run into at least three to four Real Estate Agents that claim postcard farming is useless and a waste of time and money.

Because I’m a naturally curious person, I feel compelled to dig into this, ask some questions, and find out if things truly are as they seem, or if there may be something else afoot, that could simply be overlooked by the Realtor®.

Over the years, we’ve noticed that there are some common thoughts that come up time and time again. All these things, I would put under the category of using “Outdated Real Estate Farming Practices”, and not actually problems with Farming a neighborhood with postcards.

With a few small tweaks, these agents could actually be very successful with their Real Estate Postcard Farming Program. To those ends, today, I thought I would share the three most common mistakes we see that can be tweaked, and avoided, turning your Real Estate Farming efforts into immediate successes.

1) If you aren’t tracking your response rates with your Postcard marketing, how can you truly say postcard farming isn’t effective?

This one comes up time and time again. In fact, this has always been the most fascinating part of the Real Estate Industry to me. Unlike any other industry in Corporate America, the Real Estate Industry at large seems to be accepting of conducting long term, very expensive postcard marketing campaigns, without any true way to track ROI.

If I were to go into Pepsi, for instance, pitch my marketing plan and when asked how we would gauge success or ROI, say, “I Don’t Know”, I would get tossed out of the meeting. They would be right to do so, because it’s simply unheard of to not have any plan for tracking marketing results.

If major corporations refuse to throw money out to simply be “visible”, you should too!

So how to you track your postcard farming program? While there are many ways you can, my favorite path is always the one that is automated.

Take for instance a program like our LeadingAgent Neighorhood Capture System. With the use of a variable data key code (capture code), and a hook to get the homeowner to go back to your website for an item of value, you can easily track response rate.

Whatever system you use, hopefully it’s intuitive enough that the capture code is not only unique to the homeowner’s address, but ALSO the actual marketing piece. By having that feature, you can not only track overall effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, but also the effectiveness of a particular marketing piece, vs. other pieces in your campaign.

When you actually start tracking results, you may be very surprised to find out that your campaign wasn’t broken at all. You just didn’t know where your deals were coming from. Conversely, if you find out that your postcard campaign indeed is not effective, this gives you a quick way to find out, without wasting a bunch of money, and allowing you to make tweaks, to get your campaign firing on all cylinders.

2) Neighborhood Demographics Have Changed, But Your Marketing Content Didn’t

There is a saying that “If you stop for lunch, you become lunch”. This saying can apply to your Real Estate Farming techniques. You see, in the past 10-15 years, across many of America’s cities, home values have risen dramatically. As the home values have rose, many aging homeowners chose to sell their homes, taking advantage of the high prices, and downsize to a smaller home, retirement community, etc.

Who moved into these homes? In the Silicon Valley, where our offices are based, for instance, many young, high tech executives moved into these homes. They were doing very well with stock options and great salaries and decided to settle down, buy a home close to their company and start a family.

If you are a Realtor® that didn’t notice these changes, the problem here, is that in a flash, the demographics of your marketplace changed. As a result of these changes, what used to interest the people you were marketing to, simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

Take for instance the recipe card. If you farm area has shifted to young, well educated professionals, recipe cards are the very worst thing you can send them. Instead for instance, maybe you would focus on market stats related postcards that truly analyze what is going on. Or, since your target group has trended to the younger, more active segment of the population, maybe value added pieces that detail events and activities they can take advantage of, in the area they live.

Learn about your marketplace, give them what they want, and you will be successful.

3) Relentless Consistency Has Become The Name Of The Game

In the last 10-15 years, more than ever, mass media has hit a fever pitch. Americans are given so many marketing messages throughout the day, at such a rapid pace, and the internet has given us such an “on demand” style of living that we have simply had our attention spans reduced to that of the mosquito.

Time and time again we hear from Realtors® that say they mailed postcards religiously to a farm area, year after year and it yielded zero results. Come to find out, when we dig a bit and ask them how frequently they were sending cards, we most commonly hear, “twice a year”, “every quarter”, or at best, “every other month”.

THIS WILL NOT WORK

In today’s marketplace, if you want to have a successful geographic postcard marketing campaign, you have to send postcards to your farm area a minimum of once per month. If you can afford to start out more frequently, all the better. Any less than every four weeks will make you irrelevant in the minds of homeowners in your farm area(s), therefore making your postcard campaign a complete loss.

You work hard on your marketing messages. Don’t let something as easily solvable as consistency be the thing that ruins your campaign.

So there you have it. These of course are just the three most common things we hear from Realtors® when discussing postcard farming practices and why they think this form of marketing doesn’t work. There are many others we have encountered though, and thankfully, they all have simple solutions as those detailed above.

Do you need help analyzing your current postcard marketing campaign and want to figure out how to get it back on track? Have you completely stopped postcard farming and want to see about getting a campaign up and running? Have you never participated in this form of marketing and would like to learn “best practices”, before getting started? Contact me anytime, and I would be more than happy to help you in any way I can.

Chris Leo

Chris Leo is a Silicon Valley, CA entrepreneur, complete workaholic, top notch inbound marketer, dad to the coolest kid on the planet, type “A” personality, shameless self-promoter and never ending “connector”.

Even though he is seemingly always working, when he does take breaks, the “work hard, play hard” motto takes on a whole new meaning. Most people talk about “wanting to do things”, Chris goes out and actually does them.

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